About Cheakamus Community Forest
In 2005, the Province of British Columbia offered Whistler, as well as the communities of Pemberton and Squamish, an opportunity to submit a community forest proposal that would give them a tenure license to harvest 10,000 cubic metres (m3) of wood annually.
After many discussions among neighbouring communities, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), Squamish and Lil’Wat Nations agreed to partner on the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF). The joint venture reflected an important cultural reality: Whistler and its adjacent lands are part of the traditional territory shared by the Squamish and Lil’wat people.
In November 2007, the three Sea-to-Sky governments signed a letter of intent with the Province of BC for a community forest that would be one of the first forest operations in BC to employ Ecosystem Based Management. This holistic approach to forest management reflects the land use plans of all three partners and considers all aspects, including the human factor, of an ecosystem and determines the best way to ensure its ongoing viability.
Through discussion and community dialogue, the three regional governments developed a plan that would see forestry management emphasize recreation values, watershed protection, visual quality and cultural values. The CCF covers 33,018 hectares, with almost half of the forest, 15,000 hectares, protected from harvesting through mechanisms such as Old Growth Management Areas (nearly 50 per cent of the trees are designated old growth forest) and Ungulate Winter Range status designation plus voluntary set asides.
In April 2009, the RMOW, Lil’wat and Squamish Nations entered an agreement with the Ministry of Forests and Range to harvest 21,000 cubic metres annually within the tenure area.
The Cheakamus Community Forest is a Limited Partnership governed by a non-profit society comprised of representatives from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Lil’wat and Squamish Nations. While Whistler is perhaps best known as North America’s premier ski resort, it is also part of the shared unceded traditional lands of the two First Nations. These three partners share equally in the management of the forest. Each partner has representation on the Cheakamus Community Forest Society (CCF) — an independent, not-for-profit organization.
Whistler is a Coast Mountain community approximately 125 kilometres north of Vancouver. The town has a permanent population of about 14,000, plus a significant population of seasonal workers. Around 3 million people per year visit the four-season resort. A mayor and six-member council who are elected to four-year terms govern the resort municipality.
The Squamish Nation is a vibrant and dynamic Coast Salish Nation, with a strong culture and rich history. The Nation’s population is scattered among nine communities stretching from North Vancouver to the northern area of Howe Sound. Over 60% of the more than 3,600 Squamish Nation members live on-reserve. Electoral reform was completed in 2018 and starting in 2021, Squamish Nation Council structure is made up of eight elected councilors plus one elected chair.
The Lil’wat Nation, also known as the Mount Currie Indian Band, is located approximately 40 kilometres north of Whistler. The government of the Lil’wat Nation consists of a Political Chief, Cultural Chief and 11 councilors who are elected to four-year terms of office. The Political Chief is the respected leader and spokesperson for the Council and the Líl̓wat Nation. The Cultural Chief acts as a cultural ambassador at ceremonial events and gatherings. A mentor to all involved in governance, the Cultural Chief provides guidance to the Political Chief to ensure all business is carried out in a culturally respectful manner. Currently, there are more than 2,200 band members, and 1,450 live on reserve.
- Helena Edmonds, Lil’wat Nation
- Jordan Gabriel, Lil’wat Nation
- Arthur DeJong, Resort Municipality of Whistler
- Martin Pardoe, Resort Municipality of Whistler
- Gary Muuren, Nch’kay Development Corporation (representing Squamish Nation)
- Kathleen Edwards, Squamish Nation
Executive Director, Heather Beresford